Directed by Spike Lee
Written by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee
Based on the novel by Ron Stallworth
John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Corey Hawkins, Ryan Eggold Jasper Paakkonen, Fredrick Weller, Paul Walter Hauser, Ashlie Atkinson, Michael Buscemi, Ken Garito, Robert John Burke, Nicholas Turturro, Alec Baldwin, Harry Belafonte.
In the early 1970s, Ron Stallworth (Washington) is the first black police officer in the Colorado Springs Police Department. Assigned to the file-room he is bored, and asks for extra work. He soon finds himself involved in infiltrating the local chapter of the KKK, but on a phone call with the chapter president, drops his own real name. With the help of fellow Detective Flip Zimmerman (Driver), they plan to investigate them – and a possible terrorist attack they have planned.
This is an incredibly confronting look at racism in the early 1970’s, and sadly it seems there are still ongoing issues represented here still today. In this pre BLM movement which has become even more prominent in the last few years.
The characters are all brilliantly performed by the actors in the roles, with Adam Driver delivering a Oscar nominated performance. Washington (son of Denzel) proves he is no nepo baby, and was robbed of recognition from them (he was however nominated for a bunch of other awards for it).
Some of the caricatures of those within the KKK are quite different, with husband and wife Felix and Connie (Paakkonen and Atkinson) openly showing their racism – as well as cop Landers (Weller) who hides his in plain sight. While the low level associates were personified as almost inhuman, the higher ranking leaders such as chapter president Walter (Eggold) and National Director David Duke (Grace) – at times had more of an empathetic approach to their own racism.
The score by Terence Blanchard, is both soft and subtle at times, and others is dynamic and mesmerizing, and worthy of an Oscar Nomination. The soundtrack is heavily influecence by black culure, and the era of the movie.
At 135m, there are some slight pacing issues – but this is a brilliant piece of filmmaking.